A few highlights of GLENS FALLS CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT W.I.D.E. initiatives:
No Place for Hate
Beginning in September of 2023, Glens Falls City School District was designated as a “No Place For Hate” district by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in Albany. With this distinction, the ADL provides grade-appropriate tools and resources to help further develop students’ leadership skills and foster a culture of anti-bias and anti-bullying for students across all grade levels.
Jackson Heights Principal Carrie Mauro serves as the W.I.D.E. Coordinator and liaison between the five school site leaders and the ADL. In a No Place For Hate school, students take a pledge to treat others fairly, take action against bullying and bias. Middle and high school students sign the “Resolution of Respect,” while elementary students sign the “No Place For Hate Promise.” Additionally, students participate in at least three ADL-approved activities organized by the students that address bias and bullying over the course of the school year.
Dignity for All Students
GFHS Public Policy class and Social Justice Club members met with Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell of the 39th District, who authored the New York State Marriage Equality Act and wrote the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) laws and their revisions. He is now working on a third update to DASA. He dialogued with GFHS students at the capital about the law, including questions about bullying and other issues included in this law. As part of their research, Public Policy students created a DASA student survey and received over 800 responses from Lake George and Glens Falls students in grades 7-12. These results were shared with Ms. Woerner and Mr. O’Donnell. These results will help shape the plan to update DASA later this year.
Community Circles and other dialogues to break down barriers to authentic relationships
GFHS students, parents, and staff participated in a community circle offered by Mediation Matters and discussed different issues related to poverty, disabilities, and school climate.
This spring, GFHS will show a documentary, Black Girl in Suburbia and host a forum to discuss the documentary with current students and alumni. The dialogues are beginning and we are very excited for this!
During Black History Month, GFHS students are attending the African American Film Forum movie nights at Crandall Public Library each Tuesday beginning at 6:30. The movies are documentaries focusing on African American life and are followed by food and a discussion.
CASDA/Common Thread equity trainings with Board of Education, administrators
During July of 2023, Board of Education members, each school principal, and district-wide administrators participated in several hours of training and follow-up with Common Thread of the Capital Area School Development Association (CASDA). The leadership teams explored themes related to diversity and inclusion, discussing how our learning and operational structures can be more equitable for all involved. These trainings have led to new ways of thinking about technical and adaptive challenges and their solutions.
Partnerships with the Glens Falls NAACP
Each year, GFHS students participate in the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in Glens Falls. In 2024, several students presented original works that included poems and essays and participated in the MLK ceremony. One student, Jakob Pregent, was the master of ceremonies, and another student, Claudette Bricoccoli, was the American Sign Language interpreter. GFHS students are involving themselves in NAACP interests including race, poverty, disabilities, bullying, the environment, and school climate. Students are also organizing to be a part of the Community Climate Act Walk in May organized by Diane Collins who is the NAACP Climate Committee leader.
Free swim lessons for all students in grades 1-4
As a wellness, equity, and safety initiative, the district is providing free swimming lessons to any child in grades 1-4 at Big Cross, Jackson Heights, Kensington, or Abraham Wing elementary schools during the month of March 2024. There is for children to attend, swimsuits and towels can be provided, and plenty of approved instructors and lifeguards will be on hand to make the lessons a great experience for students. The program includes a family swim day as well, building community across elementary buildings.
Proposal for a Warren Co. Unattended Youth Homeless Hotline
GFHS students, led by Jack Sweet, worked with the Warren County Youth Bureau to submit proposals for a Warren County Unattended Youth Homeless Hotline. Students have been reaching out to state lawmakers to advocate for their proposal. Jack Sweet is finalizing a current bill with Representative Woerner to allocate 2024 budget funds to the hotline.
Food, clothing, and supplies are all provided to Glens Falls students at no cost
The Glens Falls City Schools HOPE Committee works to break down barriers holding students back from their fullest educational experience. This happens by compassionately fulfilling immediate needs of students for food and clothing, building and supporting trusting relationships with district families, and fostering connections with community resources. Students and families can “shop” for 15 items of clothing for each family member once a month at the HOPE Boutique, which carries gently-used and new clothing, shoes, jackets, and more.
Free breakfast and lunch meals are provided to all UPK-12th grade students each day in Glens Falls City Schools, through the federal Community Eligibility Program. Families do not need to apply, and every student can get these meals, regardless of family income. The Glens Falls City School District Backpack Program, a 501(c)3, provides kid-friendly, easy-to-prepare food to bring home on the weekend.
Since 2020, the district has provided all school supplies necessary for every student. And since 2018, Glens Falls has provided individual Chromebooks for all students and assistance with internet connection outside of school as an equity initiative.
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Learning is at its best when school communities prioritize wellness, inclusion, diversity, and equity among students and staff. These fundamental principles serve as the cornerstone for creating supportive, enriching, and equitable learning environments. Here’s why focusing on these aspects is paramount for the success and well-being of all involved:
Promoting Wellness: A school environment that prioritizes wellness acknowledges the holistic needs of students and staff. Mental, emotional, and physical well-being are interconnected with academic success. By implementing wellness programs, providing access to mental health resources, and encouraging healthy habits, we help students and staff thrive academically and personally.
Fostering Inclusion: Inclusion goes beyond mere diversity; it’s about creating spaces where everyone feels valued, respected, and represented. When students and staff from diverse backgrounds feel included, they are more likely to engage actively in learning and contribute positively to the school community. Inclusive practices promote empathy, understanding, and appreciation of differences, preparing students for success in an increasingly diverse world.
Embracing Diversity: Diversity enriches the educational experience by exposing students to varied perspectives, cultures, and experiences. A diverse student body and staff bring unique strengths and talents to the table, fostering creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. By embracing diversity, we cultivate environments where individuals can thrive, learn from one another, and celebrate our differences.
Advancing Equity: Equity ensures that all students have access to the resources, opportunities, and support they need to succeed, regardless of their background or circumstances. Addressing disparities in educational outcomes requires a commitment to identifying and dismantling barriers to success, whether they stem from systemic inequalities, socioeconomic factors, or other sources. Equity-focused initiatives aim to level the playing field, empowering every student to reach their full potential.